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Skills Builder: The Story So Far
April 8, 2019
Chris Cuckson

When Enabling Enterprise was set up nearly ten years ago we offered schools three main components to help them teach essential skills: lesson-time Projects, Challenge Days and Visits to Employers. To support teachers in delivering these effectively, our Education Associates would use the dedicated support sessions in school to train teachers to get the most out of the resources we provided. Back then, all of the schools we worked with were in London and the surrounding areas - and predominantly primary schools.

Today, our mission remains the same: to ensure that one day, everyone will build the essential skills to succeed. We’re also steadfast in our belief that skills can be taught and learnt. The eight skills around which all our programmes are based also remain unchanged, covering the four areas of communication, creative problem solving, interpersonal and self-management skills.

We now work with more than 480 schools covering all regions of the country and even have a presence on the international stage with several schools using our programmes successfully in Europe and the Far East. To keep up with this rapid growth, our fantastic team of ex-teachers as also grown and we now have Education Associates based across the UK, working with schools from Newcastle to Cornwall.

What’s been going on with schools?

The Principles

The Missing Piece, written by our CEO and founder Tom Ravenscroft, was published in 2017. Central to the book are the six principles for teaching skills successfully. If the eight skills are ‘what’ to teach, then these principles are ‘how’ to teach them: Keep it Simple, Start Young and Keep Going, Measure It, Focus Tightly, Keep Practising, and Bring it to Life.

We soon realised that our best chance of having a lasting impact was to shift our focus to encouraging schools to adopt and embed these principles more widely. This way, the teaching of skills would become part of the fabric of school life, a common thread through all subjects. We want to show teachers that they can build essential skills into their everyday teaching by following the same tried and tested principles we all use in the core subjects of literacy and numeracy – a simple shift in practice for a huge impact.

With this approach, we can ensure essential skills are reinforced regularly and not just when taking part in one of our Projects, Challenge Days or Visits to Employers. To support this, we’ve put together a series of training sessions to focus on each of the six principles and eight skills to give teachers a solid understanding of the theory behind our approach, giving them the confidence to apply this to their own teaching practice.

Goal setting and reviewing

This year we’ve also introduced a goal-setting process to help school leaders identify which principles they want to focus on. We felt it was important for schools to have a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve, and reflect throughout the year on their progress.

To help, we created a brief guide of practical actions to embed each principle at various stages of mastery – from getting the basics in place, then moving on to deepening their understanding, and finally achieving excellence. This has been a huge success, and we have plans to develop it further by providing a more detailed, step-by-step guide with examples and case studies of best practice.

The Hub

In 2018 we launched the Skills Builder Hub. Any teacher in the world, regardless of whether their school is signed up to one of our programmes, is able to get on board and start building their students’ skills for free. The resources allow them to assess their student’s skill level with the help of our assessment tool, pitch their teaching correctly by using the Skills Builder Framework as a guide, and teach the skills in short manageable chunks through a set of short video activities. There is also a bank of other resources to celebrate success, as well as classroom display materials to encourage familiarity. Since launch, 4200 teachers have signed up across 30 countries – a real step forward and a successful expansion of our work.

Membership Offer

To help schools get started, we created a simple, cost-effective offer to allow schools access to a wealth of classroom resources and training sessions. This year alone has seen a tremendous uptick in new schools signing up across a much broader area than previously seen. This has opened up opportunities with schools in different settings who might not have previously been able to get involved, which is incredibly exciting. Through the goal-setting and training sessions for all staff taking part, we know that skills are now a high priority for schools and teachers feel more confident to teach skills more regularly.

What’s next?

We’re looking forward to developing our school relationships further through support towards mastering the six principles, working closely with school leaders to maximise the potential for progress. We also aim to rapidly expand our network of schools, teachers and organisations in the Skills Builder Partnership, broadening the opportunities to build skills across contexts.

For schools that use our resources, exciting times are ahead! We’ll soon launch a whole new platform, plus revised curriculum materials across all of our Challenge Days and lesson-time Projects. We’ve been working hard all year to upgrade our curriculum resources to provide a more interactive and skills-focused experience for students and teachers.

Our core mission and skills remain the same as the day we started. But by shifting our training and support to be more focused on the principles, as well as offering schools and individual teachers free access to improved resources, we look forward to a world where everyone can build the essential skills to succeed.

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